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4 months after the blast: How Beirut children are recovering from the explosion

January 6th, 2021

The multiple crisis of Lebanon is affecting the most vulnerable children. TdH activities doesn't stop after the immediate relief we deployed after the blast three months ago.

The day when everything changed

The Beirut Blast came at a time when Lebanon was dealing with a severe political, economic and financial crisis along with an increasing rate of Covid-19, further worsening the conditions of the already vulnerable population and the overall poverty rates of the country.

Lebanon is in phase 4 of the COVID-19 outbreak, where wider community transmission is observed bringing the total number of reported cases since 21 February 2020 to more than 55,000 people.

The financial crisis, the fluctuation of the exchange rate between the Lebanese local currency and the dollar is also challenging the living conditions of the Lebanese and refugee population: 50% population is currently considered living under poverty line.

Hala plays again

Hala heads toward the public garden in their neighborhood in Karantina, an area that suffered severe damages due to the Beirut port explosion as it is located only a few hundred meters away.

Accompanied with 7 of her relatives and friends, she takes part with other children in several activities such as arts, crafts, and stress relief games. These activities are implemented by Terre des Hommes in Lebanon, within the project “Lebanon 2020: Supporting vulnerable boys, girls and caregivers, affected by the Beirut Blast”, funded by Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties (GIRO 555). Hala is 11 years-old. She lives with her family in a small neighborhood in Karantina. Thanks to these activities, she admits she has discovered her interest in becoming an architect in the future. 

Hala’s mother did not believe at first that the area was safe for her children to be outdoors, especially after the explosion. With the launch of the activities in her neighborhood, she soon witnessed the happiness of the children under the tent, and she did not hesitate to let her children take part in the activities as well.

The days of the activities are similar to festive days for her children, affirms the mom. She can feel the happiness of her children who wake up early on those days: “The activities relieved their stress. They were very happy”. She adds that Hala is now bringing up different subjects to discuss with her at home. And what is most importantly, she says: “thanks to the activities she participated in, Hala now expresses herself more often”.

Our work in the most affected areas

At the very beginning of the intervention project activities were implemented in the area of Karantina (one of the most vulnerable areas affected by the Blast).

First support to children and families in need was provided by TDH, through the use of tents and open spaces in the neighbourhood in coordination with the other humanitarian actors present in the field.

Immediate coordination was set up with the local authorities and hotels, shelters, schools, and local and International NGOs trying to locate and assess the needs of the families affected by the explosion.

A total of 320 children were reached with the provision of PSS and recreational activities; around 200 families have been identified and referred (internally or externally) for case management purposes; 100 among the cases identified were related to Child Protection (CP) and managed directly by TDH.  A “Child Wellbeing Assessment” has been developed and published by TDH in the first month of operations.

The assessment focuses on the psychological impact of the explosion on children, adolescents and caregivers/parents. The reason behind this decision is based on the observation that several (I)NGO were implementing socio-economic need assessments mainly focusing on the material needs (shelter, wash, basic assistance etc) missing the psychological aspects and impacts on the children population. Around 305 assessments have been collected.

During the month of October, after the first emergency response implemented in Karantina, TDH identified new areas within the geographic scope of the intervention, to fill the gap on services provision to the general population affected by the Blast in coordination with the several actors part of the response. The new areas are Achrafieh Sassine, Karm al Zaitun, Zkak El Blatt and Moussaytbeh.

    In all new identified areas TDH immediately started a coordination with related local communities in the identification of possible spaces to implement PSS services and in the outreaching of the vulnerable children and families, to avoid possible overlapping with the other actors present in the areas of reference.

    Still so much to do

    Since the end of October a new cycle of activities related to focused and community based psychosocial support have started in the new areas of implementation.

    During the month of November, the first round of provision of cash assistance will be implemented for the identified families and hygiene kits will be distributed. Referrals to case management services continue to take place, both internally and at an external level (being TDH one of the hotline holders for child protection case management services in Beirut and Mount Lebanon areas). Caregiver support initiatives will be starting from the month of December.

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